80s, 90s, Computers, Quick Lists, Toys — June 11, 2013 3:02 pm

6 Pieces of Obsolete Entertainment Media

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Growing up in the 80s and 90s, we’ve seen some pretty bizarre entertainment media that has come and gone faster than you can say day-glow running shorts. Here’s a handful of them, and I’m not going to touch film or music-storage devices for a number of reasons: the list would be entirely too long and it would make me entirely too sad because I have no less than 5,000 VHS tapes. I hate you DVDs and Blu-Ray.

6 – HitClips

Did you catch all of that at the end?
 

The late 1990s/early 2000s were a strange time—we had technology, more than we could have ever hoped for (minus those flying cars), but we still didn’t know what to do with it. Hence, HitClips were born. These little guys cost $3.99 for a low-fi mono version of one song. Well, less than one song, actually. Of course, you also needed to buy a $20 HitClips player to listen to the things. HitClips were a mere 60 seconds long. Mindblowingly, these things raked in $80 million in 1999 alone—a big feat considering HitClips were kind of like the late 1990s version of a ring tone (since pagers didn’t have any).

5 – Video Now


Just as annoying as watching bootlegs on YouTube and not finding part two of an episode.
 

Video Now is like the HitClips of moving pictures. A weird, clunky plastic machine with a tiny screen whose media can hold up to 30 minutes of video. Sign me up. This was also marketed to children, but did end up with a fairly decent library including Boy Meets World, Sonic X, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This was at a time where full seasons and series weren’t readily available on DVD. Obviously that’s happened (since I have quite a few seasons of Boy Meets World and they’re not on the Video Now format), so this technology is kaputz.

4 – Game Boy Camera

They really went with that jingle. Huh.
 

Released in 1998, the Game Boy Camera takes black and white photos that are 256 x 224 pixels in size and is used with either the Game Boy or the SNES. You can even print out your masterpieces on the Game Boy Printer. Yeehaw. The Wikipedia page for the Game Boy Camera features a grainy black and white photo of a Ford Tempo taken with the device, very indicative of the time. Perhaps I’m being a little too hard on this device. After all, if you wanted digital pictures back in 1998, your only other option was a Sony Mavica. No thanks.

3 – Dear Diary


Truth be told, the fortune teller on these things were pretty fun. Stop judging me.
 

In the early to mid 1990s, electronic organizers were all the rage, allowing for busy business people to take memos, keep track of their address book, schedule appointments, and more. These were later replaced by PDAs and then Smart Phones, but before that, they were painted pink and marketed to girls. Casio presented My Magic Diary with a matchmaker and fortune teller feature. Tiger Electronics had the much pinker Dear Diary. Casio also released the Secret Sender 6000, which was just an early form of text messaging.

2 – PDAs

This prehistoric creature could have been in your pocket if the iPhone didn’t come along. Spooky!

After the diaries, or electronic organizers, came PDAs, or Personal Digital Assistant. These were rudimentary iPhones, keeping track of all the same things your Dear Diary (or electronic organizer) kept track of. Plus it had solitare. And sometimes you could crank up that 14.4 modem and get online. PDAs are still in existence today—the BlackBerry, for instance, is a PDA. But the BlackBerry should be discontinued and ready to be a blurb in one of our articles any day now.

1 – Pagers/Beepers

Hey, the 1990s called…

I remember when these things were banned in my high school. Girls would have to carefully hide it on their person as to avoid detention. Seems silly now, but those things were a distraction. Usually it was just someone’s mom telling them to bring some milk home, but it also could have been your BFF messaging you with “911” which meant “EMERGENCY” which meant “OMG, Billy totally likes you!” Once people migrated to cell phones, pagers became obsolete, except for in real emergency venues like hospitals.

Honorable Mention: Ident-A-Call

What a sleek design!

When Caller ID first came onto the market, it was called Ident-A-Call. Obviously we still have Caller ID and I’m sure 99% of the world uses it (or at least whatever percentage of the world has in-laws), but no one uses the term Ident-A-Call anymore. Except for my parents.

What is your most missed piece of obsolete media? Leave us a comment and let us know!

3 Comments

  • Fantastic post. This was an awkward time indeed. I have silly memories about each one of these monstrosities. The best – I went on a  high school trip to a state forest for science club (it sounds way nerdier than it was). I didn’t have my own camera at the time, so I brought the Game Boy with the attachment. Everyone, including the girls I was trying to impress, loved it. We snapped fun photos the whole time and paid no attention to science. Poor science.

  • Before hitclips, there were Pocket Rockers. They had two songs, and you flipped them over to hear each different one. I had a TON of those when I was younger (about 1988)

  • I was just telling my boyfriend about the Casio Magic Diary. Lo and behold, searching for it brought up this article first! I got one for Christmas in 1994. I was in 6th grade, and this was the hot item in the grade. My mom decided to get me the blue and gray one so I could stand out. My classmates all brought them into school, and mine was complimented on.

    My brother had said that a girl in his 6th grade class (we are twins) had the one with the TV remote on it, and the kids in his class conspired to turn the TV off when they were watching a movie in class.

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